A Study in Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 4)

BOOK: A Study in Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 4)
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A Study in Temperance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ICHABOD TEMPERANCE

 

Copyright © 2014 Ichabod Temperance

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN-13:

978-1500575632

 

ISBN-10:

1500575631

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

for Percy

and

Mr. Ron Franks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance

 

Volume One: ‘A Matter of Temperance’

Volume Two: ‘A World of InTemperance’

Volume Three: ‘For the Love of Temperance’

Volume Four: ‘A Study in Temperance’

Volume Five: ‘In a Latitude of Temperance’

Volume Six: ‘The Measure of Temperance’

Volume Seven: ‘The Seventh Voyage of Temperance’

Volume Eight: ‘The Title of Temperance’

 

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements             

Prologue One.             

Prologue Two             

Prologue Three             

Chapter One. An Unfortunate Occurrence of the Galloping Trots.             

Chapter Two. The Adventure of the Student Insomniac.             

Chapter Three. The Problem of the Plastered Bust.             

Chapter Four. The Adventure of the Disinterested Page.             

Chapter Five. The Adventure of the Reconsidered Signalman.             

Chapter Six. The Private Case of the Welcome Wagon’s Wander.             

Chapter Seven. Murder is Served.             

Chapter Eight. Memoir-able Meanders Upon the Moors.
             

Chapter Nine. The Case of the Yellow Stained Spike.
             

Chapter Ten. The Adventure of the Sinsational Signora.             

Chapter Eleven. The Private Case Book of the Nine Débutantes.             

Epilogue.             

Afterword             

Acknowledgements

 

 

Thank you, Wolfgang Metzger, for generously providing the delightful silhouettes for use on the cover. Many thanks to the ever obstreperous Sergeant Turk, for the swell cover graphics.

 

Thank you, my many friends from Aurelia, professional wrestling, indie film, and the local music scene for inspiration of the many characters contained herein.

 

Thank you, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for giving us such a wonderful and enduring figure as the Great Detective.

 

Of course, this and the other books would never have happened without the gracious, kind and patient assistance from my lovely muse, Miss Persephone Plumtartt.

 

Prologue One.

North Africa. 2,339 B.C.

The Earth is losing her grip upon this plane of existence. She slips away in tortured shudders. Seeing the waters of the Nile River smash about in massive waves as if they are an Ocean caught by hurricane is impossible to my eyes. Throttled in violent seizures, the land vibrates with Ra’ah’s wrath. The air itself is crushed with pounding releases of deafening thunder. The sky is torn asunder by ripping blades of maddened lightning.

This city’s high walls of giant stones had always been of a larger-than-life proportion to me. At this time of cataclysmic upheaval, though, they seem so puny before what now approaches. The obelisks of power concentration and the pyramid collectors had kept the Great Ones’ power in check, but now they have been disrupted by the power-mad High Priest Elyodnanocruhtraris. Pillars I would have thought immovable, now sway as some exotic dancer from the decadent cities of the lower river. There is just the slimmest chance for humanity to survive this apocalypse, but only if I am in time.

I must make it to the inner courtyards. I need that open and protected space to perform the banishment ritual. I pray that my servants have performed their duty in removing the Queen’s personal guard and insane Priest, Elyodnanocruhtraris. That man has become a monster. His knowledge from the inner sanctums of our ancestors has been twisted to evil purpose. His body has grown grotesquely large and his strength, immeasurable. He now towers far above even the tallest warriors of our armies. He inspires fear and his presence is despicable to be near. It is said that he has gained the secrets of extended longevity. My acolytes have made special preparations for the dispensation of this most dangerous of the High Priests.

“Ah!” I stumble from an especially strong tremor. Am I too late? Have the ‘Great Ones’ already brought themselves into manifestation?

I have no retainers to help me to my feet. As the Supreme High Priest, I have grown accustomed to having bearers. I must now depend upon my own courage, and not the strength of others. Rising to my feet, I straighten the golden head-dress of my station and hurry on.

The courts are so open and vulnerable to the outrageous display of the turbulent heavens. The purple clouds are illuminated from within, casting brief images of the tumbling storm. The stone terrace of the court ripples with waves as if it is the surface of a disturbed bowl of water. It takes all my will to maintain my balance in this heaving sea of quarried stone and screaming winds.

“No!” The Pharaoh Queen has taken her position! In the Court of Kings, she stands upon the
Cubus of Anointment
, prepared to make the
Ascension
.

“Begone!”

Ramming my shoulder into her exquisite stomach, I tumble the dangerous woman from the Stone of the Gods.

The beautiful Pharaoh looks up at me in disbelief from her place of rest on her royal rumpus.

“You
dare
to strike
me?
I am a
God
in this world!
I
am the one to make the
Ascension,
for
I
am Pharaoh Queen Nefertatas! You shall not be so presumptuous to attack me, the greatest, and most beautiful Queen of all time. As I make my
Ascension
, be assured that you will be the first upon whom I feast!”

“I do so dare! Sit upon your laurels and hear the words of power!”

“Ppaughley Whaughley Dhjouoghddle!!”

The sky with its lightning, the Nile with her unruliness, the flames of the flickering torches, and the atmosphere roar back even louder and stronger in their vehement defiance. The elements of our world have turned treacherous as they succumb to the
’transition’.

My own Earth turns against me.

“I must be strong!”

The roaring wind makes me unsure if I am coaxing myself aloud or by an inner voice. I must say the warping words of power. I must have the strength to complete the banishing words of defiance.

More tremors throw me to the ground and I don’t know if I can rise again. The new quakes are more rhythmic than the other shudders that have gripped the land. They are as giant footsteps in their regularity.

These come to a stop on the other side of the high wall.

A great hand grips the top of the outer wall. The forty cubit structure is then adorned by the first hand’s human shaped mate.

Two large, pointed, furry ears rise from behind the high wall, emerging from an enormous golden head-dress.

The high walls buckle as the tremendous weight of the creature is transferred onto them. Tension appears in the mighty hands that grip the top of the massive walls, as the Creature can be assumed to be standing atop its tiptoes and pulling Itself up a smidge for a peek. Though shaped as a human male from the shoulders down, the titanic being is quite inhuman.

“Ha ha ha!” laughs Nefertatas. “He is here!”

Recognition and anger fill the pyramid block sized obsidian eyes of the Unknowable One as his terrible gaze falls on me and his excited bride.

“RHUTATOOTOOTUNKAMEN!”

The giant jackal knows my name!

“DO NOT DARE”

“TO SPEAK THE WORDS!”

“I must be strong. I must be strong.” I chant to myself. I must defy that which is undeniable.

My grim countenance must reflect my intentions for I can see a change in Annuubnuub’s vulpine features.

“RHUTATOOTOOTUNKAMEN!”

Incredibly, there is a tremble in the God’s voice.

“NO!!!”

For the first time in my life, I see fear in Nefertatas’ beautiful yet dangerous, heavy mascara-enhanced eyes.

With all the breath I can manage, I, Supreme High Priest Rhutatootootunkamen, bellow:

“Ppaughley Whaughley Dhjouoghddle aulle theighhe Djhgeighje!!!”

Prologue Two

Cairo, Egypt. July, 1866.

I’ve been through these manifests a dozen times, and there is absolutely no mention of the
Cubus Quartet!

Me boots echo in this vast, man-made cavern. This warehouse is a jungle of Egyptian loot, but I know that to try and pocket even the smallest ancient trinket would mean many years in penitentiary. Besides, I have me eyes set on the highest of prizes. The smartest thing to do is to bide me time. I’d sure like to at least keep track of the
Ascension Stones
, though, and be ready for a heist at the first opportunity.

Everything in this bloody building is nailed up tight in these heavy wooden crates. I am able to wander amongst boxes of treasure that would buy a hundred kings’ ransoms. Treasure climbs in stacks toward a distant ceiling, all arranged with bureaucratic precision into neat little streets and avenues. Though the gold and jewel encrusted antiquities are clearly labeled and cataloged, a hand full of large, incalculably valuable gems could be hidden anywhere. Even if I could open every crate in here with impunity, it would take years to conduct a thorough search if they are cleverly hidden. These jewels are sure to be cleverly hidden.

I will not be deterred. I have invested too much time and effort to let it go now. I owes it to me mates to follow through with our plans. There is an undeniable attraction in these fabulous rocks that I cannot deny.
I shall not, no, I
cannot
be deterred. I can’t get those gems out of my head! Every waking moment, I think of their sparkling beauty. Every night they fill my sleeping dreams. I cannot escape them. Incomprehensible tectonic forces have pressed at their labor for untold thousands of millennia to grind these wonders into existence. These priceless beauties are said to far surpass perfection itself.

“Oi must possess the ‘Jewels of Impossibility’!”

Prologue Three

London, England. March, 1876.

I hurry up Northumberland Street as I am now in very serious danger of being late for my meeting. When nimbleness fails me, I am not above shouldering a few of my fellow commuters filling Charing Cross to hurry along. My appointment is for five o-clock, precisely. Turning into Pall Mall, my target is now within reach. One of the world’s finest hotels, the Carlton, lies opposite to me. The famous Clubbe Pythagorean is the landmark I search out, for it is next door that I find the virtually unknown and therefore, most exclusive of clubbes that I seek. I must be mindful of the total silence requirement this sanctum. I bound up the short flight of plushly carpeted stairs. My sudden movement causes a furtive ripple to pass through an adjoining room of stolid gentlemen in the stately and quiet chamber. Though there are many men in the luxuriously appointed hall, they are all arranged in such a manner that a measure of solitude is achieved for each. A sense of resentment arises from the group and a silently remonstrative usher hurries forward to direct me to a waiting room for visitors of this cryptic keep. This front room is designated for conversation in the otherwise decibel deprived dwelling. I sit in the bay window overlooking the bustling traffic of the street I just exited, awaiting my summoner.

Moments after being shown to the room my confidante enters. I am always struck by the immense size of the unfortunately overweight man. Though his flesh has run to fat, his staggering intellect is, without a doubt, one of the sharpest in the Empire. We meet in the middle of the room to shake hands. He extends a great fleshy hand to me, palm down. I deplore shaking hands in this manner as it forces me to turn my hand palm up to shake his. This invariably pulls my elbow inward, twisting it into an uncomfortable position.

“I see you came by way of West Strand. Little wonder you were almost tardy in our appointment. You should have stood by your first instinct and traveled by the northern route through Drury and Russell Streets. You would have found the streets dirty, but passable for uninterrupted travel on Longacre.”

“How the devil could you know that?”

“Do I really have to explain? My time is worth a considerable amount, you know. Far more than you will ever conceive. But the most obvious sign of course is the lack of soil upon your shoes. The most direct route from your hotel would have been along Fleet Street. You could then avoid the throngs of clerks and various employees leaving work by coming north of Leicester and you left your hotel according to that avenue’s time estimation. However you thought you would take a shortened route on West Strand; only having arrived there, you found the streets had been torn asunder in preparation for the submerged rail service being constructed. In an effort to preserve the fresh polish of your shoes, you then had to hurry along the riverside to gain Charing Cross where a scuff on your left shoulder indicates a rude passage on that busy thoroughfare.”

How simple an explanation yet so strikingly accurate. I suppose it is one of this man’s clever little tricks.

A small expression of loathing crosses the flaccid features as he appears to read my thoughts. He is as a magician that has revealed his trick, and thus lost the awe of his audience. I must be more careful with my thoughts and expressions around this man.

The pale gray eyes of the human abacus convey the sense that he is dissecting and digesting me for information consumption. His formidable mathematical skills  break me down into an endless series of numbers passing through his computational contemplation. At last, he speaks.

“This country is in terrific danger. The exact nature of such is still unknown. I require data to make sense of the damnable conundrum. Considerable effort has gone into placing you in a position of extreme sensitivity to protect this country from a known and viable danger. However, a threat has arisen from an unexpected area. You will use your serendipitous placement to assist another agent from a different sector of our government’s intelligence bureaus that is already in deep cover.”

“Yes, sir. I am aware of a large operation in the works, but as of yet have no actionable particulars.”

“Powerful elements of diverse backgrounds are converging on one target. Your mission is to discern the insidious plots and unfolding infernal desires of these ruthless entities.”

“I may require the assistance of extended ‘manpower’, so to speak.”

“I follow your meaning and those assets shall be at your disposal.”

The highly placed governmental mathematic leviathan sinks into his own most inner thoughts. He mumbles aloud, more to himself than to me.

“Confound it, I wish that boy would finish his schooling and make his talents available to me. Though he is not quite my equal in intellect, my younger brother does possess an astounding capacity for physicality when properly motivated that I find lacking in myself under almost any circumstance. This could well be the time that I need him most.”

BOOK: A Study in Temperance (The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Book 4)
8.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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